The Wilco frontman, whose new memoir is '' World Within a Song,'' used to browse encyclopedia for hours on end : '' I read them the way that people surf the internet today, maybe ............. So I know everything.

.-  What are you planning on reading next?

'' Poverty, by America,'' by Matthew Desmond. I just started it. It's not a particularly uplifting book, but it is enlightening, and shares a lot of information about how we got in this situation we're in as a country, because of the way we treat poverty.

Desmond has been studying it for decades, and investigating if the solutions we've attempted have ever done much good.

And how good intentions can sometimes cause a lot of damage. And how there are solutions we just don't seem willing to try, politically.

.-  What books are currently on your nightstand?

My night stand ends up collecting a lot of books that aren't particularly new.

'' Wittgenstein's Mistress,'' by David Marksonis on my night stand. He's one of my favorite authors, and his writing is one of the stylistic innovations that influenced the Rememorries in my new book.

I try to construct sentences in the style of David Markson. He has a series of books - '' Readers Block,''  '' This is Not a Novel,'' '' Vanishing Point '' and '' The Last Novel'' - where he uses very very short chapters and sentences with seemingly unrelated information that end up telling sort of hidden stories within the negative space of the way he writes. It's amazing.

I also have ''The Nature Book,'' by Tom Comitta, which came out not long ago. The book takes, I believe, somewhere around 300 texts of other books and compiles them into a narrative with no humans.

It's just descriptions of landscapes. It's actually a really challenging book to read because it's hard to stay focused - you get tired. 

It's kind of like riding in a car. But it's all this different, beautiful language synthesized into one narrative that mostly describes the environments you're passing through. I think it's amazing. I have not finished it yet. But I love the concept.

.-  What was the last great book you read?

I really enjoyed '' An Immense World,'' by Ed Yong, which gave me a ton of stuff to think about.

It's basically a book talking about all the different ways that animals perceive the world.

The senses that we as humans have, but also the senses we don't have, like electromagnetic navigation. And what we know scientifically, but also what we can't know about how animals perceive the world, which I find very, very interesting.

So much so that I've written a lot of songs that are circling around this idea in my head.

That you could have an animal live within feet of another animal, but the sensory apparatuses that the two animals have might not allow them to know that the other one is there.

I find it very poetic, and almost a metaphor for how we as humans live with each other sometimes.

.-  What kind of reader were you as a kid? What childhood books and authors stick with you most?

I was - and still am - a pretty voracious reader. Especially after fifth grade or so, when they started having book fairs at schools and you could order books from a catalog, books about Pele or U.F.O's, or the Guinness Book of Records.

But before that, when I was really young, we didn't have a lot of books in the house. My mother loved magazines. And so there were magazines everywhere, and I would read everything from Redbook to Better Homes & Gardens...... honestly I would read everything and anything I could get my hands on.

And my mother, because she loved magazines, would always buy me magazines when we went to the store.

So she supported the idea of getting information from magazines, and I got of lot of them to read growing up. But the books we had were the World Book Encyclopedia, which was one big shelf in my parents house.

I truly believed they contained all the information there was to know in the world. It would excite me, thinking it all sat right there.

So I read those. I read them the way people surf the internet today, maybe. I would just flip through them for hours and hours. So I know everything.

.-  What's the most inappropriate book you've ever received as a gift?

I received a book of Russian prison tattoos. It's a lot of really hard-living-looking humans naked, showing their tattoos.

It's exactly what it sounds like it is. There's not a lot of text. Just all pictures of naked Russian men.

That's the first book that comes to mind in terms of inappropriateness.

The World Students Society thanks The New York Times. 


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